Air, air for radio veteran
Veteran Wellington radio host Justin du Fresne has been given a right roasting at a star-studded farewell lunch.
The charity event, raising funds for local people in need, was held at the Eastern Egret in Waikanae on Sunday, with guests including former prime minister Jim Bolger, broadcaster Kevin Milne, comedian Pinky Agnew, playwright and columnist Dave Armstrong, and du Fresne's journalist brother Karl all paying tribute to the retired Newstalk ZB host, whose radio career spanned 53 years.
With Bolger as MC, quick-fire witticisms, criticisms and quips were the hallmark of the day.
The tone was set when Bolger fired a shot in Milne's direction: "Brain fade is no excuse for the promotion of shaggy synthetic carpet."
Milne retaliated, explaining that he was chuffed to be asked to speak until du Fresne made it clear he was a last-minute ring-in, a stand-in for cricket commentator Bryan Waddle, "who for some odd reason decided to go to Jamaica and watch cricket".
Prime Minister John Key was also on the invitation list, Milne said. "Can you imagine: 'What shall I do? Fly to the States and see Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, or hear Bryan Waddle and Co in Waikanae?' He was never going to be here. This is a shocking breach of the Sale of Goods Act. As a consumer advocate, I feel embarrassed to be linked to it."
The main reason he was invited, Milne said, was because du Fresne was "always going on about how the sand at Raumati is very hard on his carpets . . . he wants free carpet."
He described weighing up the offer to advertise carpet: "I know I live in Kapiti, but do I really want to be that carpetty?"
Armstrong, describing himself as a "D grade" celebrity speaker, said du Fresne was a "paragon of patience", unflappably doing one thing with his voice and another with his body as people came and went from the studio.
Karl du Fresne said his brother had, all his life, lived under the dark shadow of being the white sheep in the family, "infuriatingly good intentioned".
Agnew said the broadcaster began his career "when a 'tranny' was a radio you held up to your ear".
As a parting shot, Justin du Fresne described his guest speakers as "four retired relics whose time hasn't yet come, and obviously did not have anything better to do on the day".
The Dominion Post